Tuesday marked an important milestone for nonprofits in our
community. The Institute for Nonprofit Innovation and Excellence officially
opened in its new permanent home at the TCC Capitol Center.
It’s been a long journey to get here. I remember shortly
after I became president at TCC being approached by several area nonprofit
leaders about the lack of advocacy efforts for their sector in our area. Having
served on multiple boards, I already knew the impact that nonprofits have on
our community, not just in terms of social value for the vital services they
provide, which is immeasurable, but economic value as well. With something like
800 not-for-profits in Tallahassee alone, each year these organizations funnel
millions of dollars back into the local economy for things like hiring staff,
professional fees such as accounting and legal counsel, purchasing supplies,
renting office space, obtaining insurance coverage, etc. I could immediately see both the need and the potential.
With training and networking opportunities, we could create something to
provide our area’s nonprofits with the leg up they need to compete for limited
resources no matter their size or mission. Such a program would be less about TCC
or establishing a brand, and more about designing a place where synergies could
I want to see nonprofits continue to use INIE as a place for creativity, innovation and growth, but more importantly, I want to see INIE continue to help develop more nonprofit professionals like Darby who can help increase the capacity of their organizations and be assets to the people they serve.
INIE is now well-positioned at the Capitol Center just steps
from the state capitol and city hall and with over 9,000 square feet of
flexible office and meeting space to facilitate collaboration and innovation. I
credit much to VP Kimberly Moore for her leadership in making it happen. She
understood that we would need to provide the foundation – we didn’t want
nonprofits raising money for salaries or furniture, we wanted nonprofits
raising money to make a difference. And INIE wouldn’t be what it is today
without executive director Jessica Lowe Minor who has been at the helm for well
over a year now and has made a
remarkable difference including the development of the social entrepreneur
program. As a result, we are now one of only four or five communities in
Florida with this kind of infrastructure built intentionally to its purpose.
The positive feedback has been overwhelming. The opening was
well-attended and I was glad to hear several speak who have already been
impacted by INIE including Darby Kerrigan, executive director of the Legal Aid
Foundation spoke at the opening about how the Institute helped her get started
as a new ED and get started well. In fact the workshops and special events,
like our first-ever Nonprofit Enterprise & Social Innovation Summit (NESI)
held earlier this month, have all been well received and have exceeded our
I want to see nonprofits continue to use INIE as a place for
creativity, innovation and growth, but more importantly, I want to see INIE continue
to help develop more nonprofit professionals like Darby who can help increase
the capacity of their organizations and be assets to the people they serve.
As most of you know, 2016 is our 50th anniversary as a college. Over the course of those 50 years we have grown and changed, sometimes in response to changing needs and often as a result of inspired leaders whose vision and leadership guided the college through periods of great challenge.
As we moved into our 50th anniversary year, I learned things that have been especially moving for me. In the past three months, I’ve heard stories from our rich history that I had never heard and established many new relationships with people who have all been impacted by TCC in one way or another throughout the years.
I’ve gotten to talk personally with some amazing people like Helen Harvey, Dot Binger and Judy Jolly, all of whom helped found TCC and educated some of our first students, as well as Sam Cunningham and Charlie Macon, who were leading this College as trustees as far back as 1966. What a humbling experience to learn their stories and how they shaped our college over the past decades.
Our milestone year presents us with an excellent opportunity for everyone to rally around the College and help us lay the groundwork for the next 50 years. So after months of thorough planning and hard work our Vice President for Resource Development and Executive Director of the Foundation Heather Mitchell officially announced our comprehensive campaign for the College, “TCC. We Rise.”, at the Foundation's First Annual Cleaver and Cork Event on March 4. The campaign includes six areas of focus:
- TCC Downtown Center – to create a unique education hub in the heart of Tallahassee that links the for-profit, non-profit, and government sectors in ways that stimulate innovation
- TCC Gadsden Center – to provide access for Gadsden County students and residents to degrees and workforce programs that lead to jobs with family sustaining wages
- TCC Wakulla Environmental Institute – to make Wakulla County a world class destination that brings together education, conservation, and recreation in an environmentally sensitive way
- Teaching and Learning Environments – to transform classrooms into spaces that leverage the use of furniture and technology to promote collaboration and encourage critical thinking
- Bridging the Gap Scholarships – to expand access for students in strategic academic and workforce programs that meet the demands of our region’s employers
- TCC Endowment – to secure TCC’s ability to react to future opportunities with the resources to help guide our direction and destiny
I’m thrilled to say today that our campaign has already reached $5.3 million of our $10 million goal. I attribute much of that success to Heather’s skilled leadership with an amazing team behind her, as well as the leadership of two other power women – the unstoppable Pam Butler, president of the Foundation Board of Directors, and the dynamic and passionate Karen Moore, TCC trustee and campaign chair, a pillar in our community and one of the most gracious and accomplished people I’ve ever known. I commend these three for their leadership.
As our campaign continues to develop, I have had the opportunity to meet with alumni, donors, and potential donors. Every single person I have spoken with made it clear that this community believes in what we’re doing at TCC. They all have family or friends of employees who went here, or they went here themselves. Theirs is a deep and universal gratitude for our College. They want to invest in the future of the College because of their past with the College, and they are as delighted to give recognition as they are to receive it. Their philanthropy is about their personal connection.
TCC is not just a community college, it’s a community institution. I know that, the students know that and everyone who works here knows that. Please join us this year because together we rise!
Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Taking time to be retrospective is a wonderful exercise. Months ago when we started preparing for TCC’s 50th Anniversary year we spent a lot of time looking back, from the foundation of the College to today, and who helped us along the way. The photos and documents we pulled from the archives, some of which dated back years before the doors even opened, were a wonderful reminder of our rich history and the significance of our institution.
With our anniversary year now well underway, everywhere I go there are people who have been impacted by TCC and express to me their heartfelt gratitude for the tremendous work we do. They ask, “Is Professor so-and-so still at the College?” or they tell me how much they loved a certain advisor or class. Some days it seems like most of our community either was a student, or knew a student, or hired a student. I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding it is that these remarkable people, some of which I work with on a regular basis, have such a positive impression of this institution.
It continued last Thursday evening when we honored 50 such alumni as part of our 50 for 50 – a profile series that celebrates each of their achievements since graduation. The excitement in the room as each of them received their recognition was palpable. There was so much pride in being a part of TCC at such a momentous time.
For one of the honorees, TCC was as much a part of their family history as they are a part of ours. David Chapman’s mother, Ruth, had served on our founding Advisory Board which organized the new College and would later become the District Board of Trustees. His father, Harold, was one of our celebrated early faculty and taught from 1967-79. David graduated in 1972 alongside his wife Diane and they were married the year after. A generation later, their two sons would attend here. They all take pride in TCC.
We could go on and on about the number of students we’ve served or the economic impact we’ve had on our community in 50 years, but this is what really matters – improving the fabric of our community, touching individual lives, being a part of the foundations of students’ success. That is why we’re here.
I can’t wait for what’s next. I hope all our faculty, staff, students and alumni will take the opportunity to join us for one of our many upcoming events.
On January 28, I will be hosting the Archive Gallery Exhibit Opening in the Fine and Performing Arts Center from 5:30 - 7 p.m. In addition to the many pieces of photography from 50 years of history that we will have on display, we will also be premiering the 50th Anniversary short film, “Celebrating a Legacy, Building a Future.”
We also have our first ribbon-cutting ceremony of the year on February 15 at the Wakulla Environmental Institute. More details on that to come.
Visit 50.tcc.fl.edu for more information.
Jim Murdaugh, President Monday, January 4, 2016
Every organization has a certain amount of inertia or velocity with which it moves steadily forward. This forward momentum is almost never the result of one massive push, but rather many small and determined pushes that are motivated by a collective desire for progress.
I have the honor of being at the helm of Tallahassee Community College as we celebrate our landmark 50th anniversary. This institution has seen some of the most hardworking, most dedicated people come through its doors over the last 50 years, students and employees alike. Each of them have shaped the College in their own way.
Where we are today and where we are going is the direct result of their small and determined pushes forward.
Looking back is humbling
Every morning I pass the portraits of my predecessors on my way to my office. They hang on the wall just outside the Board Room and always remind me of the tremendous legacy of our College as well as that of the Office of the President. I am humbled to be counted among their ranks.
Our founding president Dr. Fred Turner was hired when we were nothing more than a legislative act and a service district and over the course of fourteen years, built us into one of the fastest-growing, most respected colleges in the state. It is said that he knew how to put people at ease, the type of man who “just got things done” which probably explains how he managed to not only create such a solid institution from scratch but also hire some of the region’s best teachers and staff. After Turner, Dr. Marm Harris significantly expanded the student experience with cultural and athletics programs though he was only here for two years.
Our third president Dr. Jim Hinson fostered record-setting enrollment and faculty retention rates while simultaneously expanding the footprint of the College. A World War II veteran honored with a Bronze Star, Hinson was well-known as a man with integrity and a great reputation in higher education circles. Over the course of his 12 years at TCC, he was able to secure some of the best legislative support to date and the highest faculty salary average in the Florida College System.
Dr. T.K. Wetherell was and still remains one of the most esteemed members of our community. His impact on TCC can be seen in the scope and beauty of our campuses and the strength of our community relationships. Never before was there a president who accomplished so much, so quickly and with such quality. And finally our fifth president Dr. William Law – a gifted leader and strategist, his passion for academics led to a substantial expansion in programming as well as the establishment of groundbreaking student support services like the Learning Commons.
What is important to note is that none of these leaders had a truly blank slate to work from. They were each faced with a unique set of pre-existing challenges when they came into office. There were countless budget cut-backs and reorganizations, legislative issues and construction delays. But there were also opportunities – to adapt, to grow, to serve.
Looking back, each president was successful in navigating the challenges, leveraging the opportunities and progressing the College, even if the hours were long and progress was incremental.
The future we build for TCC will be on the foundation laid by these men.
What we do and how we do it
Looking ahead I know that while many things will change, our College’s core values will not.
We are demand-driven.
One of our foremost responsibilities has always been to be responsive to the needs of our community, not just in the kinds of degrees or certificates we offer, but also in the method with which we offer them and the level of support and auxiliary programming we provide alongside.
The state of higher education today is such that we often find ourselves serving some students who possess better technology than the College itself alongside other students who have no access to technology or even reliable transportation and depend on our Centers and computer labs to access their classes. The technology landscape changes so quickly that we are often faced with having to choose long-term improvements over short-term enhancements as was the case with our new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. We chose Workday because we needed a forward-looking solution, not one that was built for the present.
Similarly, whole workforce industries are disappearing every year while others are just coming into existence. Tomorrow’s fast growing careers don’t exist today. How do we adapt? By staying nimble enough to make adjustments according to demand. Two years ago, no one would have ever thought we would be teaching students how to fly unmanned vehicles, but a need was expressed and we are now on our second class.
It is also vital that we teach skills that are transferable. For example, I just recently took the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Pledge as a uniquely effective way to provide students with the tools they need to succeed and help support our local economy. Entrepreneurship is not just a career path, it’s a mindset that spurs innovation and job creation.
Most importantly, we have to make sure whatever program we offer leads to a career. To this end, we have made major commitments to our service district through our county-specific workforce institutes – the Florida Public Safety Institute in Gadsden, the Ghazvini Center for Healthcare Education in Leon and the Wakulla Environmental Institute in Wakulla. These dedicated facilities are entirely focused on providing an advanced level of career training in public safety, healthcare and the environment, respectively, which are the sectors in our workforce that we have identified as strategic to the success of our district, our College, and our students.
We are student-centric.
Access is the hallmark of a community college. At TCC, we don’t have GPA minimums or extracurricular requirements, we have an open door. We keep college affordable by maintaining one of the lowest tuition rates in the state. We have always placed an emphasis on teaching as was indicated by our very first catalog back in 1966:
"The truest measure of the worth of any college is its faculty. The Tallahassee Junior College faculty is a TEACHING faculty… Their major efforts are directed toward the student in the classroom, toward helping him master his subject matter and toward helping him realize his potential."
Access does not just mean the first step, though. Every semester we welcome a vibrant and diverse group of students with unique needs. We are here to bring out the best in them, to help them succeed from their first class to graduation and beyond. Last year, I requested an evaluation of the Black Male Achievers (BMA) program, a TCC student organization designed to empower and educate its black male students on the importance of the successful completion of their postsecondary education through the practices of academic, social and occupational excellence. I was delighted to learn that BMA members have higher course success rates, higher retention rates and higher graduation rates compared to their non-BMA peers. Furthermore, five of the program’s participants were active members of Student Government Association and of the 12 members who graduated from TCC that semester, most transferred on to a state university. We consider support for these types of programs a duty and a privilege.
Responding to our communities’ needs, keeping that door open for our students, focusing on the classroom experience, constantly seeking ways to position ourselves at the forefront of industry advancements, these are the ways we are able to stay true to our founding principles.
The next 50
It is certainly strange to think that one day our successors will look back on this year as part of our College’s history much like we are now looking back at the past half century. I hope their connections to this institution will run as deep as those who have come before them.
Part of our preparation for the 50th Anniversary has involved us combing through records and inviting many visitors from the past back to our campus. I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of them and hearing their stories. Some are funny, many are touching, but all are full of pride, and for good reason.
Over the past 50 years, this organization has represented the community with distinction both locally and nationally. For example, in 2011-12 we were ranked number one nationally among two-year colleges for graduating students with Associate in Arts degrees, and in a recent survey, 83% of respondents in our community rated the quality of education at TCC as “good” or “excellent.”
What we’ve done, we will continue to do because we are proud of what’s been built here. We will continue to be demand-driven and student-centric, we will continue to maintain a high level of quality both in the way we provide education and the way we run our enterprise, and we will continue to be your college of choice.
In honor of this momentous year, I want to thank all of our community, past and present for making TCC such a special place. We would not be where we are today if it weren’t for the efforts of so many who care about the success of our institution.
Here’s to the next 50.
Jim Murdaugh, President Monday, December 14, 2015
As we approach our winter break and the end of another calendar year, I would like to take a moment to share just some of the many highlights from 2015 and express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who make this College a success each and every day.
- TCC was one of 16 colleges nationwide to be named among the 2015 Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development and “Diverse: Issues in Higher Education” magazine. This designation recognizes the College for its commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
- TCC was recognized by the Huffington Post for being ranked No. 8 in the nation among community colleges by SmartAsset.com for our high success rate, good return on investment and low cost.
- TCC was ranked among the top schools in Military Advanced Education magazine's 2015 Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges & Universities. TCC was also designated a military-friendly school by Victory Media for the second consecutive year.
- TCC Model United Nations received an Honorable Delegation award and a Position Paper award at the National Model United Nations in New York City.
- TCC’s baseball and softball teams received All-Academic Team honors from the NJCAA for achieving a minimum 3.0 team GPA during the 2014-15 academic year, and five individuals earned Academic Student-Athlete Award honors from the NJCAA.
- Angela Cole and Sarah Allen were named to the 2015 All-Florida Academic Team in recognition for their outstanding academic achievement and their Phi Theta Kappa service projects.
- TCC Forensics received bronze awards in both Overall Team Sweepstakes and Individual Events Team Sweepstakes at the Phi Rho Pi junior college national tournament—the team’s 14th consecutive award in Overall Team Sweepstakes and its 16th straight Individual Events team award.
To read more about these and all our most recent honors, visit Our Accolades.
I wish I could recognize each of the hundreds of other success stories that have occurred this year thanks to the wonderful faculty and staff of this college. With that said, I just want to wish the entire TCC family a joyous holiday season. I hope you will enjoy the time with those you care about, laugh a lot, and remember that the best things in life are not things.
Jim Murdaugh, President Friday, October 2, 2015
Tallahassee Community College is shocked and extremely saddened by the shooting that took place yesterday at Umpqua Community College. While their institution may be across the country, we are united by our core values. Our deepest sympathies go out to the victims, their families, and the entire Umpqua community. Please join with me in keeping them in your thoughts and prayers.
Our TCC Police Department has already taken measures to increase security on our own campuses and will be providing a strong law enforcement presence in the coming days. The safety of our students, faculty and staff is paramount and we will remain vigilant in our commitment to ensuring our community’s protection.For more information on our security measures, please visit the Chief’s Blog.
Jim Murdaugh, President Tuesday, August 25, 2015
It’s Welcome Week at Tallahassee Community College, when we
get to greet a new class of thousands of new and returning students to our
College and get excited about beginning another new academic year.
I want to thank each of our students, faculty and staff for
choosing TCC. This will be my sixteenth year employed at the College, and my
fifth year as President, and yet the enthusiasm from our campus family for what
we do here still continues to amaze me. The talent of our faculty, the
dedication of our staff and the determination of our students reminds me every
day of what makes our College so great.
I’m also proud of our community. Tallahassee is an ideal
place to learn and earn, and I have worked hard to develop our local economy so
our graduates can find employment. In my capacity as Chair of the EconomicDevelopment Council of Tallahassee/Leon County, I had the opportunity to recap
some of the progress we have made at the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Conference, as well as lay out my hopes for the next few years. We
have so much going on in Tallahassee and as long as we focus on what makes us
great and don’t lose the momentum we’ve been generating, I see big things in
Here at TCC, we’ve got even more on the horizon. We are
currently building two new facilities, the Gadsden Center, which will expand
our efforts in Gadsden County, and the Wakulla Environmental Institute, which
will help establish Wakulla County as a world-class ecotourism destination. And
we are also in the process of reimagining the Capitol Center to become a place
of synergy between the private and public sectors.
I am dedicated to maintaining and
expanding upon this institution’s reputation as the college of choice for
students, the employer of choice for faculty and staff and partner of choice
for the community. I work hard every day to make this happen, and I welcome
Soon we will get to announce a big project that will
solidify our commitment to be an entrepreneurship college. As of yesterday’s
District Board of Trustees meeting, we are one step closer to adding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree which we hope to begin accepting students for this
spring. And I have also welcomed to our ranks several new team members this
year including our new Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Feleccia Moore-Davis and our new Chief Business Officer and Vice President for
Administrative Services Barbara Wills.
But perhaps most important of all, in 2016 TCC will be
celebrating our biggest milestone of all, our 50th anniversary. It
will be a time to reflect upon and commemorate our past, and start the process
of building what we want to become. I am thrilled to be leading this College on
the eve of something so special.
As we move into a new semester and a new year, I want to
reiterate my commitment to this College. I am dedicated to maintaining and
expanding upon this institution’s reputation as the college of choice for
students, the employer of choice for faculty and staff and partner of choice
for the community. I work hard every day to make this happen, and I welcome
your input. Have ideas or questions? Please feel free to join the conversation
and interact with me on my Facebook page.
With that said, best of luck to everyone this semester and
all the semesters ahead. Let’s have a great year!
Jim Murdaugh, President Friday, April 17, 2015 It’s been about a year and a half since our trustees
approved a measure to develop a proposal for a much-needed Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at Tallahassee Community College, and just over
a year since a moratorium was put in place by the Florida Legislature to halt
all new degree programs in the Florida College System.
With the moratorium soon expiring, we have much hope we will
be able to proceed with our proposal and meet the needs of our regional
Until this past year, TCC has not been interested in
baccalaureate programs. With two distinguished public universities next door,
five private partner colleges and universities on our main campus and an
effective 2+2 program state-wide, we offer a robust array of transfer
opportunities for our students.
Why are we exploring a BSN program?
First of all, this BSN is not a four-year program. Rather,
it would add the two years of nursing necessary to obtain the BSN on top of the
two years of study we already offer students who obtain an Associate Degree in
Nursing in order to become a Registered Nurse.
We are demand-driven and have a responsibility to local
employers to meet their workforce needs. This effort began when Mark O’Bryant,
president and CEO of Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare (TMH), came to us
regarding the hospital’s decision to pursue “magnet” status which included moving
to a minimum of 80% of their nurses with bachelor’s degrees. I went to FSU and
FAMU to discuss this and to assure them that we had no interest in competing
with them if they could meet this need. Because they recognized they would not
be able to meet the new demand with their existing programs and had no plans
for expansion, they supported a new option at TCC.
We also have a responsibility to our alumni. The TCC nursing
graduates at both TMH and Capital Regional Medical Center (CRMC) are highly
regarded by hospital administrators. Our graduates who are employed as RNs will
have a need for additional training. If they wish to earn a BSN, they would not
be automatically accepted, and those who are would have to start over as
freshmen. Furthermore, our graduates learn and earn right here in our district
while FSU and FAMU graduates come here to attend school and often move home after
With a new BSN program, our current nursing graduates could
return to TCC, retain their credits, finish their bachelor’s degree in two
years and stay competitive in the workplace. Likewise, new students could take
advantage of our excellent facilities and pursue a career in the growing local
healthcare job market at institutions such as TMH, CRMC, Westminster Oaks or
the new VA hospital.
For these reasons, we see a BSN program at TCC as a clear fulfillment
of our College’s fundamental mission to meet regional workforce needs.
Our community partners and our educational partners both
support a new program. I want to thank Senator Bill Montford for his tireless
efforts to lift the moratorium. I also want to thank the Greater Tallahassee
Chamber of Commerce for passing a resolution of support. We are ready to move
Jim Murdaugh, President Thursday, March 19, 2015
The value of any community college to a student lies in their
ability to provide not just opportunity, but equity of opportunity. Without understanding
that students are individuals who chose our institution for unique reasons, we
can fool ourselves into assuming that all students are alike.
Where they come from, how they got here, and what their
plans are for their future are all factors that influence a student from their very
first day of class to the moment they receive their degree at graduation.
I am proud to say that at Tallahassee Community College (TCC),
we provide an environment designed to help all students thrive. You may have
heard about our recent ranking as a top ten community college in the nation for our focus on college affordability,
an impressive return on investment and a high success rate among our graduates.
As access and success are strategic priorities for our College, we have worked hard to keep tuition low while
maintaining the quality of our instruction, and this ranking demonstrates we
are on target.
We know that a student’s success at TCC often starts before
they ever arrive at our doors.
View the full Board of Trustees workshop presentation here.
During this week’s Board of Trustees meeting, several
important leaders representing eight different College divisions or programs in
Gadsden County presented on each of their respective areas – from the Florida Public Safety Institute (FPSI) to the Quincy House to Workforce Development. Collectively, these organizations serve thousands of individuals
ranging in age from middle school students to seniors.
Why so many programs and why are they so important?
Gadsden is a county that faces many challenges. As of this
past December, the unemployment rate
stood at 6.1%, nearly a full percentage point higher than the state and
national average. The school district has the 16th highest high
school drop-out rate in the state. According to the 2010 census, about
one in four people were below the poverty line, and nearly one in three subsist
on public assistance and supplemental security income.
During the presentation it was mentioned that last year FPSI
welcomed over 4,000 students and 20,000 visitors to its campus, and they are
currently partnering with 32 different law enforcement agencies across the
state with plans to expand their national and international training.
The College Reach Out Program (CROP) and Take Stock in
Children (TSIC) programs offered through the
college serve nearly 100 middle and high school students with advising,
mentoring and scholarships. In 2014, 100% of those who participated graduated
from high school and 88% now attend TCC. The Educational Talent Search program serves nearly 500 of the same age, most from
low-income, disadvantaged households and they also saw a high school graduation
rate of 70% last year with 80% going on to TCC. By comparison, Gadsden County
graduation rate overall was 56%.
We have also broken ground on a new Gadsden Center in Quincy
which, when it opens later this year, will further support both the academic
and the workforce sides of the house. The important point is that we are
putting down permanent roots in Gadsden and we are making a difference.
These facts and figures do not adequately convey the
tremendous amount of work that is done to make each area a success. What we accomplish
through the leadership of our talented men and women who deliver these programs
is more than a job, it’s a passion and as Trustee Kilpatrick put it, “pride.”
TCC has made a commitment to finding solutions and making a
difference in Gadsden County. Federal grants expire and there will always be
adversities to overcome, but with the help and cooperation of County officials
and the School Board, I believe we can continue to impact our community in a
positive way. Let’s keep moving forward.
Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, February 25, 2015
This week, I had the pleasure of serving
as the speaker at the Gadsden Re-Entry Center’s first GED graduation.
For those of you who aren’t aware, the Center is located on TCC’s Florida Public Safety Institute campus and is
one of just five such facilities in the state and the only place in the country where a prison sits on a
college campus. It serves the entire Panhandle in preparing inmates to
re-enter society and the workforce.
When we fail to appreciate everyone’s journey, we lose sight of who they are as people. At that ceremony, I saw men who knew why they were there, but also knew they wanted a better future.
One of my goals as a leader has always been to create equity
of opportunity so any student can become a responsible citizen. So bringing a
re-entry center to our region back in 2012 was an important project to me, and
one I felt fit wholly in line with our mission as an open education
institution. The graduation certainly affirmed this. In fact, it reminded me
why I love the work we do here at the College.
Everyone’s journey to success is different, and that journey
is never a solo one. Our job as educators is to help remove roadblocks, give
hope and provide the support system each student needs to achieve their full
In my remarks, I spoke to the fact that there is no straight
line to any goal. To obtain a degree, whether it is a high school diploma or a
PhD, you must be dedicated and willing to make sacrifices. It’s not for the
lazy or weak. These particular graduates had to study in a prison setting with
the weight of their past on their shoulders. I imagine there was no small
amount of self-doubt that they could even finish.
But they did and because of that, I have the utmost respect
for these individuals. They were adults, many of them parents, who had made a
conscious decision to improve their lives and be a role model for their
families. And with their GED, they now have choices they never had before.
When we fail to appreciate everyone’s journey, we lose sight
of who they are as people. At that ceremony, I
saw men who
knew why they were there, but also knew they wanted a better future. The pride I saw in their
eyes and heard in their comments was something I am grateful to have
experienced firsthand. Helping students who choose TCC is why all of us at the
college get up every morning and do what we do. Seeing the impact of our
efforts is the ultimate paycheck.
Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Every year, I look forward to observing Christmas as part of my personal faith. I also take the time to try to learn something new about the many different nationalities and beliefs represented in our College and throughout our community. With students, faculty and staff from over 80 countries, I think it is important to take a moment and recognize the great diversity of holidays that are also celebrated in December from Hanukkah to Kwanzaa.
There’s so much good cheer going around this time of year. Let’s keep that going by embracing this season not just for each individual holiday, but as a larger celebration of diversity and acceptance.
I want to wish our TCC family and friends a joyous holiday season. If you are traveling, be safe on the roads. Otherwise, I hope you share your time with those you care about, laugh a lot, and remember that the best things in life are not things.
Jim Murdaugh, President Monday, November 24, 2014
Every morning, before the rest of my household is awake, I pour myself a cup of coffee, sit down (lately in front of the fire) and practice what I like to call daily gratitude. This is the time I take to reflect on the things I am thankful for that day. Some items on this list repeat, but others I am reminded of from the previous day’s events, maybe during a staff meeting or at a reception or even just by a chance encounter with an old friend.
Thanksgiving is not just a celebration reserved for once a year, it is a verb and it should happen every day.
This exercise has changed the way I approach all the relationships in my life for the better. I find that the more appreciation I practice, the easier it is to empathize and understand others.
Thanksgiving is not just a celebration reserved for once a year, it is a verb and it should happen every day. Repeated actions become habits and our habits are what make us who we are. As we approach the holidays, I want to invite all our campus family to practice daily gratitude. I believe it was Plato that once wrote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” This couldn’t be truer of our campus family. The longer I am in this position, the more I get to hear others’ stories and the more I realize we all need to pause and appreciate those who we work with because many are fighting harder battles.
With that said, I want to express my gratitude to all those who make our campus a great place to learn and work. Thank you for all you do and have a happy Thanksgiving!
Jim Murdaugh, President Monday, October 6, 2014
Last week I traveled to Orlando where I took part in the Future of Florida forum and was a part of a panel discussing the state of higher education and how to assess and meet the needs of Florida workforce moving forward. Later in the week I attended another forum back in town on the Future of Higher Education in Florida in which participants discussed attainment, accountability and challenging status quo ideas of post-secondary learning.
These are the conversations I love to have – outlook, opportunity and how we can position ourselves to leapfrog ahead and meet the students where they will be instead of where they are now.
As many of you are now aware, Tallahassee Community College is in the process of implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. What many of you may not know is that it took us years to find the right system, not only because of the massive scope of such a project, but because it seemed as though most of the systems we looked at represented incremental progress. When we selected our new system, it was because it was an innovative, cloud-based system that would provide solutions to problems students, faculty and staff have today as well as those they would have years from now. That’s leapfrogging ahead.
The state of higher education
There is a shift happening in higher ed. A few short years ago, degrees were considered a proxy for job-applicable skillsets. You went to college, earned your degree, interviewed for jobs, and then were hired, all on the assumption that if you had a degree you had everything you needed to perform the duties assigned. Today, employers are in need of more well-rounded professionals and are telling us graduates are in serious need of more soft skills like networking, email etiquette or how to conduct a productive team meeting, things that are often neglected in non-business degree tracks.
There is also disruption in evaluation and instructional formats. Traditionally, teaching is assessed in brick and mortar classrooms where time is considered a constant (one semester) and learning a variable (grades A down to F). That model is now being challenged. Learning needs to be assessed more than teaching, in spaces when and where the students are. And time, not learning, needs to be seen as the variable.
There is much more to come. Our College is poised for some big changes ahead and this is just the beginning of what I see as a tremendous future.
Our focus will move towards measuring learning outcomes. We need to provide a variety of teaching modes to fit the content, the student’s capability and our rapidly diversifying labor market.
To be fair, these changes have been a long time coming. When I got my first promotion into a management position, I started in my new role the following day but was told the next training workshop wouldn’t be for another six months. Unfortunately, by the time that workshop rolled around, it was too late to be helpful and worse yet, it was a waste of time. What I needed was “just enough, just in time” training.
Students should be able to brush up on skills or add new ones. They should be able to work on customizable micro-credentials while earning their degree. And they should be able to start anytime, learn anytime, finish anytime.
To add another layer to all this, we need to also consider the changing landscape of technology. New platforms and products crop up every day. Most fade, but some go on to become indispensable to everyday life. Think the POP3 server, Facebook and blogs (like this one!)
At our College, I feel it is essential to choose technology solutions that move us to the head of the industry and not restrict us to the minimum of innovation. This was why I couldn’t be more excited for our landmark partnership with Workday or this year’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) focus on digital literacy.
These are just two of the projects our College has embarked on to transform the way we align with the new face of education and the tools of tomorrow. There is much more to come. Our College is poised for some big changes ahead and this is just the beginning of what I see as a tremendous future.
My job is to identify the changes and help guide us to that future. With my next few blogs, I will be writing on the role I see each of us as stakeholders of TCC playing in the coming years and how we will all coordinate to embrace the new era of higher education. These groups include, but are not limited to, students, faculty, staff, trustees, board members, community leaders and our education partners. My hope is that through these and other discussions, we can better understand where we are headed and continue our dialogue of how we will get there. Stay tuned.
Jim Murdaugh, President Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Today, Tallahassee Community College launched a brand new initiative for nonprofits in our community. Many of you may have already heard about this project from all the interest it has generated in the past few weeks. In truth this has been something I’ve been planning for years.
I have a passion for nonprofits. They are a vastly underappreciated and underrepresented component of local economic growth and I believe you cannot have a vibrant economy without them. Several years ago a study was done on Leon County nonprofits. According to data recorded from 2004 operating revenues, the 251 total organizations in existence at the time had created 4,216 jobs generating $144.4 million in total gross wages annually, and a gross annual output of nearly $300 million. In 2007, a survey indicated that “annually 82% of all Leon County nonprofit operating revenues are expended within Leon County.”*
Today, our region is home to over 600 501(c)(3) Charitable Not for Profit Organizations. If their collective revenues have increased relative to their rate of growth, you can imagine what their fiscal contribution to our local economy is now.
And yet, the nonprofit sector is still in many ways “an invisible part of the local economy.”* My goal is to change that. It’s why I am a member of a number of nonprofit boards and why I insisted on adding a fee-free nonprofit seat on the Economic Development Council when I became chair last year. It’s why I am president of TCC, an institution that was founded on the same principles that guide nonprofits – education and public service. And it’s why I spearheaded an initiative at the College that will help our area’s nonprofits.
What I dreamed up, Kimberly Moore, vice president for Workforce Development, and her team has made happen. My idea of a training center with robust resources and services to “advocate, educate and engage” our nonprofits was just that, a dream. But together with some key partners, we have made it a reality.
It is with great pleasure that we announced the launch of the new Institute for Nonprofit Innovation and Excellence, or INIE for short, downtown at the TCC Capitol Center today. We hosted a number of guest speakers and also released the full list of our programs for the next year which will include workshops and networking events. For all the details, please visit www.theinstitutefornonprofits.org.
Nonprofits have always provided unparalleled social and economic value. I am looking forward to seeing the impact INIE will have in helping these great organizations and our community grow.
* Economic Assessment of the Leon County 501(c)(3) Charitable Not for Profit Organizations and Impact Contributions to the Tallahassee and Leon County Economy [Study by United Partners for Human Services in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation]
Jim Murdaugh, President Thursday, May 29, 2014
A couple weeks ago, I received an evaluation of the
Black Male Achievers (BMA) program in my inbox. For those of you who don’t
know, BMA is a TCC student organization designed to empower and educate its
black male students on the importance of the successful completion of their
post-secondary education through the practices of academic, social and
occupational excellence. I had requested the evaluation in order to determine the
educational and personal impact of this program on its participants.
According to the data collected, it was found that BMA
members have higher course success rates, higher retention rates, and a higher graduation
rate compared to their non-BMA peers. Five of the program’s members are active
members of Student Government Association (SGA) and of the twelve members who
graduated from TCC this month, most will be transferring on to a state
Perhaps more significantly, all of the members of BMA reported
the program has made a positive impact on their lives, empowering them as
students and as citizens to be the change they wish to see in the world. They
cited their exposure to positive role models, opportunities to network with
professionals, exposure to black history and opportunities to give back to the
community as benefits of the program, creating an environment that supports
student success. One student stated that the program helped him get his life
back on track, while another called it a “life changer.” Through the
requirements of the program, rules become habits and habits become success.
Why is this important?
At the core of every higher education mission is the
desire to bring out the best in students through opportunity. But at an open
education institution like ours, we bring out the best in students through equity of opportunity. We aren’t
admitting cookie-cutter students based on someone’s opinion of what a perfect academic
should be. We are open education which means we welcome a vibrant and diverse
group of individuals with unique needs and goals. Our job is to create the setting where any
student, regardless of race, gender, religion, etc., can take their first step
towards realizing their full potential.
We cannot demand success from our students without providing a variety of outlets through which they can grow as individuals.
We cannot demand success from our students without
providing a variety of outlets through which they can grow as individuals. This
is why we have programs like BMA, Connect2Complete, Phi Theta Kappa, Model
United Nations, Theatre TCC, STEM programs, International Student Organization,
Student Veterans Association and many others. It’s why we have enriching study
abroad programs, a well-equipped library and an award-winning tutoring center.
These are not officious organizations and services meant to make us look better
on paper; they are living, breathing resources that provide the equity of
opportunity our students need.
Equity of opportunity also means going beyond our
campus. Relationships with area universities and partnerships with local
businesses are equally vital. From the on-campus university partners to our
workforce training clients, we are always working on paths to help students
along after graduation. In fact, I feel there is a need for an annual meeting
with Florida State University and Florida A&M University leadership to
evaluate the value of our current degrees and catalog the region’s needs.
Resolve is, of course, the student’s responsibility –
college is hard work and takes no small amount of perseverance – but providing equity
of opportunity is our responsibility. To that end, we will proudly continue to
foster organizations such as BMA and the valuable qualities they promote in our
Jim Murdaugh, President Thursday, April 24, 2014
We’ve reached one of my favorite times of the year. Spring is in the air, the semester is winding down and another great academic year is wrapping up. But most importantly, next weekend, we will get to gather together to celebrate the successes of our wonderful graduates, the class of 2014.
Graduation is bittersweet, of course, as we are also saying goodbye. I always hope that the students we send off will not become strangers. There are many benefits to staying in our community and giving back. Whether it is continuing an education at any of the world-class universities in town, or securing a public or private sector job and putting down roots, Tallahassee offers lots of opportunities.
And TCC has given our graduates the skills and credentials to take advantage of any of these opportunities. We pride ourselves in teaching not just academics, but citizenship and service as well. Our students become nurses, police officers, water quality technicians, and software developers. Their education makes them competitive in their chosen markets and highly employable. For every dollar students invest in themselves at TCC, their future income is increased by about $6.50, or an average of 17% return on investment. Likewise, for every dollar of state tax money invested in TCC, $3.60 is returned to the taxpayers and overall, our College boosts the local economies in our service area by $387.7 million annually.
However, though our impact can be seen on a large scale, it is only achieved through individualized experiences. Our students are not just another number here. We are so very proud of each and every one of them. Students like Candace Tibbetts, who was recently named to the All-Florida Academic Team, or Anthony Johnson, this year’s commencement speaker, or the TCC Model United Nations group or the TCC Softball team or Theatre TCC!, whom have all represented our College with distinction this year. But also the students who come to class every day and do the work that will benefit themselves and their families. We recognize the drive in each of them and are continuously inspired by their determination. Our doors will always be open to them, even after graduation, and we hope they will feel welcome to come back and say hello, attend a community event, maybe even take another class or two.
Finally, to the TCC class of 2014 I want to say, graduation is not the last stop on the road, it’s the first stop. That’s why it is called “commencement.” My advice is to recognize that the future will bring challenges as well as rewards so prepare accordingly. Continuing your education, informally or formally, will help you along your journey no matter where your ambitions take you.
Congratulations, graduates, and best wishes!
Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, February 26, 2014
This week, our College was proud to launch the
TCC2FSU Golden Guarantee Program. This program offers guaranteed admission into
Florida State University for those students who continue to meet the academic
requirements to complete their Associate in Arts degree program at Tallahassee
Community College. It will also be a great opportunity for students who want to
go to FSU but were not admitted initially. This pathway will allow them to
achieve that goal.
The program is another demonstration of the
proven partnership between TCC and FSU. We are the #1 transfer school to
Florida State in addition to being #1 nationally in producing A.A. degrees
among two-year colleges. Studies have shown, our students do well at FSU and
graduate at the same rate as their classmates who started at FSU. They thrive
in the classroom and in the Seminole community having already developed
friendships in their first two years in Tallahassee.
This program is designed to help our students start
right and stay on track for their FSU degrees with customized orientations,
individualized advising, and special opportunities to participate in activities
at FSU. Of course, participants will
also enjoy the personal touch that our caring faculty and staff offer in and
out of the classroom.
I would like to point out that the TCC2FSU
program is just one of the many transfer pathways we have established or are currently
working on to ensure our students’ success beyond our College. We know that students are attracted to
Tallahassee because of the excellent opportunities our community provides in
higher education. The diversity of these opportunities is directly represented
here at TCC where, in addition to the public universities, we partner with five different private colleges and
universities who offer many in-demand baccalaureate degrees right here on our
These programs are important not just to TCC and our partner universities; they are important to our community today and will continue to increase in significance in the future.
We have also set up guaranteed transfer
programs to FAMU and UWF which we will launch this spring, and we are in talks
with other four-year schools that are looking for more qualified transfer
students like those here at TCC. I hope to establish many partnerships of this
nature in the months and years to come so that our students can have as many
options as possible.
These programs are important not just to TCC
and our partner universities; they are important to our community today and
will continue to increase in significance in the future. The more students we
bring to our area and the more graduates we retain locally, the more we
invigorate our economy. This will pay dividends for our community.
I encourage students to consider the TCC2FSU
Golden Guarantee Program. Those who are interested can learn more about program
benefits and application details at: www.tcc.fl.edu/tcc2fsu
Jim Murdaugh, President Tuesday, January 28, 2014
On Monday, TCC
unveiled our 14th annual Cherry Alexander African-American History
Calendar in a special event that both showcased the calendar’s 14 honorees and kicked off our celebration of
Black History Month. This year’s theme for the calendar was, “Civil Rights
Unsung Heroes: Great by Choice” and each of the individuals featured in the
calendar were chosen for their significant contributions to the community.
ceremony, I found myself reflecting on the “great by choice” theme. The calendar’s
honorees were all pioneering leaders who at any point in their careers could
have chosen an easier path. Fortunately for all of us, they chose to be the
first to break through their respective barriers, improving the path for all
those who would follow and promoting our country’s founding principles of
equality and opportunity.
Diversity, particularly as a minority serving institution, among our student population as well as among our faculty and staff, is a great source of pride for our College.
appreciate the theme because TCC is known as the “college of choice,” a tagline
which I feel has many different meanings. For example, we are the college of
choice for over 4,700 African American students. (For perspective: that is just
over half as many students as Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
enrolled in Fall 2012.) In 2013, we were ranked fifth in the nation among two-year colleges in awarding
associate degrees to African American students having graduated over 700
African American students.
We are also
the employer of choice for many outstanding African American faculty and staff
like recently retired math professor Mac McCorvey who, until his
retirement, was the most senior faculty member at the college, and Kimberly
Moore, vice president for workforce development who was appointed to the FAMU
Board of Trustees last year and selected by the Florida Diversity Council
to receive their 2014 Florida Most Powerful and Influential Woman Award.
particularly as a minority serving institution, among our student population as
well as among our faculty and staff, is a great source of pride for our College.
The cultural richness that comes as a result is not only a fortunate side-effect
of our open-education policy, it has become an essential component of our
collective success. Every day thousands of students, faculty and staff come
together on this campus. They bring their own individual experiences, insights,
and talents, and together they create something cool, something new, something
better. We are, and always will be, greater than the sum of our parts and that is the story of our College.
Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Many may not know it, but modern higher education owes a
great deal to the military.
The months and years following the end of World War II was a
time of change. With all the veterans returning from war, leadership recognized
an opportunity to help transition our nation into the new world order and
passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more commonly known as the
G.I. Bill. The Bill paid educational tuition and board, and made college
accessible for many veterans who couldn’t have afforded it otherwise. As a
result, tens of thousands of much-needed college educated engineers, teachers,
scientists and other professionals were graduated over the next few years and
colleges and universities grew and flourished along with the nation’s economy.
Today, student veterans continue to benefit institutions of
higher education everywhere. Their perspective improves each initiative,
organization and classroom they participate in. Their maturity and discipline
add incalculable value to any student body.
Almost every decision I’ve made and will continue to make at
Tallahassee Community College works back to the end goal of creating a learning environment that
produces well-rounded global citizens. We have a responsibility to provide
degrees with both market value and social value. We are committed to producing
citizens with diversity and distinction who promote democracy and understand
service. Veteran students are particularly well-suited for this. They have come
to our campus from all paths having made a conscious decision to better their
lives. In turn, TCC strives to provide the resources to help them transition
back into a meaningful civilian life, including:
Veteran’s Affairs is a specialized office that provides exclusive services to eligible veterans, dependents, active duty servicepersons, and members of the Selected Reserve.
The Student Veteran’s Association is a non-political student organization that promotes a welcoming atmosphere
for all branches of prior military service and their supporters. They
participate in many community events including the Tallahassee Veteran’s Day
The Veteran’s Center is a recently opened space dedicated to helping veterans in their transition to
college. Everything from academic advising to management training to academic
tutoring is offered there.
A dedicated VA
adviser is now available two days a week in the Veteran’s Center to
facilitate veterans and dependents with VA benefits, GI Bill programs, work study
opportunities and more.
GI benefits programs are available to all veterans and active duty servicepersons with
one-on-one guidance offered to help students identify the best program to fit
their educational goals.
It is our honor to be considered a “veteran friendly”
to be one of the 250 institutions participating in the 8 Keys to Success.
Our College will continue to do everything we can to promote those who have
served our country. Their stories of dedication and sacrifice are a constant
inspiration. We owe a great debt to them,
greater than we can repay. Our sincerest thanks to them.
Jim Murdaugh, President Tuesday, October 22, 2013
It was January 21, 1964 when an official request was made to
conduct a survey to determine if there was a need for a two-year junior college
in the Leon, Wakulla and Gadsden county area. Two years later, Tallahassee
Community College, then known as Tallahassee Junior College, opened its doors.
Yesterday’s Board of Trustees meeting marked another important
milestone in our history – I brought to vote and the Board approved a measure
to move forward with the development of a
proposal for adding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree for those who
already have an Associate in Science in
Nursing. I brought it forward because I believe the
timing is compelling and the three objectives we set for ourselves at the
beginning of this discussion have been met:
It is good for our
One of our College’s primary missions has always been to
provide a high quality, affordable learning
environment. I place great value in that. No degree we offer should be financially
inaccessible. Our research shows our College can offer an RN to BSN program
with no substantial increase in tuition. With facilities already in place at
the Ghazvini Center, virtually no new resources would be needed and start-up
costs can remain low.
We also researched retention rates, licensure rates, optimal
class times, degree path – all aspects of the student experience in a new
nursing program have been vetted. Finally, we reached out to our current
students, alumni and community to see if this is something they wanted. The
response was an overwhelming, resounding ‘YES.’
It is good for our
Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare President and CEO Mark
O’Bryant spoke at the meeting yesterday on the value of our graduates at TMH,
and how their education, qualifications and confidence in their practice make
them preferred hires. However, in three years’ time their hospital’s Nurse
Residency Program will require baccalaureate degrees. Regardless of how notable
our current grads are, they would have been excluded. I am glad to say we will
not be turning our backs on them.
In addition to TMH, I was contacted by other local
healthcare organizations such as Capital Regional Medical Center, Westminster
Oaks and the upcoming VA hospital, and they have expressed similar sentiments.
The need is there. They are ready for us to meet it.
Of course, I also did not move forward until many
discussions and planning meetings were conducted with our University Partners to
ensure that our forward momentum would not interfere with their programs’
success. Our goal was always to create growth opportunities, not a competitive
It is good for our
Relevancy is a priority for any higher education institution. The writing is on the wall in the Florida
College System with 24 of the 28 institutions having already begun adding
four-year programs. A paradigm shift is happening. All the same, being at the
front of the pack is less important to me than fiscal stewardship so we ran the
numbers to make sure a new nursing program would be financially viable.
Happily, our research shows that a baccalaureate degree in nursing would bring
in significant revenue, a welcome concept in lean budget years. State
legislature has also already committed a total of $30 million to expand
baccalaureate degrees in Florida, funds we would not have been eligible for
without the Board’s decision yesterday.
Moving this initiative from idea to vote has assured me of
just how much our Trustees love our College, something I was already well aware
of. We’ve had many good conversations and I respect all sides greatly.
Now that the decision has been made, the real work begins. At this point, it is premature to talk about changing the name. If our proposal is approved, then we will have to entertain that conversation. We’ve got a lot of t’s to cross and i’s to dot over the coming months and
years. However, I fully anticipate this process will go smoother than most
would think. Demand-driven initiatives tend to do that, in my experience. All are welcome to leave any comments or questions on my
Facebook page at facebook.com/jimmurdaugh, or join us at our next Strategic Plan event on October 30 at 5:30 p.m. at the Florida Public Safety Institute in
A college is more than a collection of buildings or an online presence. A college is a community—a group of people with the same goal: to learn and to prepare for the future. And a great college is more than just a destination—it is a partner in the success of each student.
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